Health care workers are among the most important first responders during the current COVID-19 crisis. They see firsthand what this virus does to people, and to their families, and the toll this situation is taking on these workers mentally, physically, and emotionally has already been well-documented.
Which is why it was so surprising that a nurse in Wisconsin showed up at the crowded reopening of a pub earlier this month and gave an interview admitting she wasn’t worried about the risks.
“I have a toddler at home and I’m a full-time nurse, so it’s been very stressful and hard to not be able to go out and be with my friends and family at the bars,” Katie Koutsky told local WTMJ.
Koutsky was one of many patrons who rushed out to celebrate the reopening of local hotspots after the Wisconsin Supreme Court overturned the state’s stay-at-home orders. The video showed her socializing at Limanski’s Pub in West Allis, with no mask and definitely without six feet of distance between her and the other customers.
“I don’t think that the risk presents any higher than me going to a grocery store,” she said at the time.
Koutsky soon came under fire for what many saw as both an irresponsible choice and a bad example for others.
After she identified herself on TV, her employers had to jump into the conversation.
Internet sleuths soon discovered Koutsky is employed by Advocate Aurora Health. Concern directed to the company led to them issuing a statement denouncing Koutsky’s decision.
“Given the ongoing education and safety measures we are fully committed to, we’re disappointed. The health and safety of our patients, team members and our community are our highest priority,” it read.
“As businesses begin to reopen, it’s important we all to continue to practice safety measures that have been effective in stemming the spread including social distancing, thorough handwashing, staying at home when sick and wearing masks in public in accordance with local government guidance.”
Koutsky herself has since apologized for her “lapse in judgement.”
“First, while my priority was to support my sister and her attempt to restart her business which has been devastated by this pandemic, I’d like to express my regret for not wearing a mask or practicing social distancing while there,” she told People. “It was a lapse in judgment on my part to not ensure I had my mask prior to leaving my house and to not maintain social distancing – even during the interview requested by the reporter.”
It’s a lackluster apology that makes it obvious Koutsky thinks she can still safely split her time between treating COVID-19 patients and going out and socializing in confined spaces. And while she has said she will self-isolate for a week now out of caution, people are still expressing concern over her behavior.
It’s really just another reason for the rest of us to stay away from bars — you never know who there has spent their entire day around people who have already tested positive for COVID-19 and decided to knowingly come hang out around strangers all the same.